Be different.

About a week ago a young girl who frequents the bookshop and likes to chat with me came into the store and told me that Grandparents/Special Friend Day was coming up at her school. Me: Oh fun!

Her: Well, yes, except, my grandpa can't make it.

Me: Oh no... that's a bummer.

Her: Well... I was wondering... since he can't make it, I'm allowed to invite a special friend.... Would you be my special friend?

What's that? Oh, that mess on the floor? It's just my heart in liquid form. Once I regain my composure, I'll get a mop and clean it right up, I promise.

So, yeah, today I got to go to the local Montessori school for two hours and be this girl's Special Friend for the day, which basically consisted of getting to wear a pin with her face on it and going to classes with her to get a peek into her life at school, followed by a choir concert before we were all dismissed and released back into the wild. It was delightful and I have never felt cooler.

At one point in the day, we were sitting in her homeroom (which is not called homeroom, but I can't remember the cute Montessori term they used, so I'm just applying public school terms to this situation) and as I was looking around, I noticed that on the wall above their 3-D printer (whaaaaaaat) were 8x10 photos of each student and a sentence about who they want to be or what they want to do with their lives. It was cute. While my special friend made her homework to-do list for the week, I started reading each kid's sentence. Most of them were standard: "I want to be a teacher," or "I want to change the world," or one kid's read "I want to make the world laugh" (rock on, little buddy), and then I found my young friend's photo.

"I want to be different."

Things in the news have been bleak lately and I've been trying really hard to keep my optimism going and to only perpetuate happy thoughts. If you've noticed, a good amount of my twitter posts consists of cute puppies and other baby animals. I just want to make people smile and to let them know that there are still things to be happy about.

When I saw this girl's sentence, I felt that feeling that I try and make everyone else feel, and all day long I've been trying to figure out why that made me smile. I think it's because people who intend to be different are the people who tend to think about why they do what they do or don't do. This girl, a sixth-grader, is already adamantly refusing to give in to peer pressure and blending in. She has already decided that standing out was better than all that.

It also helps that I know her, so I know that her version of different isn't achieved by being cruel or tough, but instead by memorizing strange facts and befriending booksellers. It's by writing silly poems and drawing goofy pictures of people, and by volunteering to help build book displays while her dad goes grocery shopping instead of staying home and taking selfies (not that I think selfies are bad, mind you, I just think that a lot of kids would rather take selfies than hang out in bookshops). She's a do-gooder and an all around cool kid. She's certainly different, but I'm certain that she's not alone.

So for all of you who think that the future is lost and that every new generation is worse than the one before you, I want you to know that somewhere out there, there are kids like this one: kids who want to be different. And I want you to remember that being different is what makes a difference.

And I think we're going to be just fine.


This blog is able to remain ad-free because of the awesome community of Awkward Ambassadors on Patreon. If you'd like to become an Awkward Ambassador and receive special perks from me, please click here

Don't Mind the Girl in the Wolf Costume, She's Here to Chase the Children.

Yup. Today I dressed up like a wolf and chased a bunch of kids around the woods. Don't worry, Gio was with me.

That doesn't make it better, does it?

Allow me to explain... My friend Jane (who is the owner of Gio's bff, Eli) is a teacher at a local Montessori school (she also makes really cool stuff that all of you should buy - Christmas. Just sayin'). Basically, the girl is an artsy badass.

So anyway, this school is doing a unit called "Cryptid Zoo" - basically, they go out and look for evidence of imaginary creatures. I learned today that there are thirteen core cryptids and then people have also come up with a billion others. Each cryptid has a name, a look, and certain character traits that set them apart from each other and everything else in this world.

So the kids had continuously asked Jane when they were ever going to see any real cryptids. Enter Emelie and Gio. There is one cryptid that is known as the Wolfworm. They travel in packs and run under low-hanging branches to avoid being caught.

Jane totally made me a wolf costume. She also made another costume for another friend of ours, but I'll get to that later.

So, we were running late this morning, but we had to make sure we got to the hiking trail before all the kids so that Gio, myself, and our other friend could go hide in the woods. We arrived literally 2 minutes before the bus. Jane starts telling me to run into the woods and hide until they find me - so I book it. Gio and I passed a kind elderly fellow who was hoping for a solitary hike that morning. I ran past him in my wolf costume, shouting "Don't mind us, sir!" To him I would like to say "sorry"/"you're welcome" depending on how I affected his morning...

When I heard all the kids coming, I went off the path and started to "hide" amongst the trees. As soon as they spotted us, they started running. This would have been awesome if Gio hadn't gotten super excited to see a group of kids. So, I'm trying to run away, Gio is trying to go make friends, and then my pants started falling down. Let me just say that many a young boy probably caught site of my polka dot underwear this morning. Oh well.

So we all started running together and it was awesome. All these kids were super psyched to see some "real" cryptids (even though they could totally tell it was just some weird chick and her dog) and we continued on our way.

Yeah. My morning was freaking sweet.

If that wasn't weird enough, here are two conversations that I had via text this morning:

Conversation 1:

Dragon: Want to go sell some clothes to the second hand shop with me?

Me: When?

Dragon: When is not good?

Me: Right now. I'm being hunted by children by children in a park with Jane.

Dragon: Well I'm in class. When will you be done and where are you?

Not even phased.

Conversation 2 (with my good friend/co-worker whom you haven't met yet and we'll call her "Fiona"):

Me: Craft store today?

Fiona: Ah! Let's see... What time is good for you?

Me: Probably early afternoon. I'm about to go dress up as a cryptid creature and chase kids around the woods, but I don't know how long that will take.

Fiona: Cool! Give me a hollah when you are done terrifying the children.

Again. Not even phased. I don't know if they were scared to ask questions or they just know me well enough to not even worry about it. Either way, I'm okay with it.

Anyway, I know you all want to see evidence of this, so don't worry, I made sure we got photos:

Anyway... What did you all do this morning?